Approaching Medical and Shadowing Experience

I’ve received a number questions asking about how to approach gaining volunteer, shadowing, and general medical experience before medical school, so I decided to post my most recent answer to R.W.

“Hi R.W.! I recommend just calling offices you’re interested in and asking if they take pre-medical students for shadowing. Most places will ask the physician and get back to you, and it is likely they’ll be willing. If you want to volunteer in a hospital you should search for that hospital’s clinical education coordinator and contact him or her. Hospitals have special requirements and sometimes online modules you need to complete. Private offices usually do not.


As far as who to approach, that is up to you! It depends if you already have an interest in something or not. When I was in undergrad I shadowed an orthopedic surgeon for a while since that is what I thought I wanted to do. I’m no longer interested in doing that, and that shadowing experience actually really helped me to decide. I also volunteered in the ER for a summer and gained a lot of valuable experience about emergency medicine and the way hospital teams function. I was able to help with some procedures and even assist in chest compressions during CPR too!

My advice is to get a broad shadowing experience from various physicians and medical fields, and keep record of everything you do so you can use it for your medical school application.

Good luck!”

Thanks again R.W. for your interest in our site!

18 Months Until I’m a Doctor

I am grateful I am still in school, because I get 2 weeks of holiday break and that certainly won’t be there once I’m working as a physician. Most rookie residents get to choose which day they want off: New Years Day, or Christmas Day. In the mean time, I am spending quality time with my family while I still can. I am in NY with my two adorable little nephews, aged 1 and 3, and my first and only child, my 84-pound dog.

I have been doing clinical rotations for 7 months now. Each month my school puts me at a new place, and I have to relearn the rules, conduct, expectations, and temperament of the physicians I work beneath. It forces me to stay on my toes, and I love it. Under my belt is 4 weeks in each of the following: internal medicine, cardiology, infectious disease, family medicine, geriatrics/palliative care, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology. As a third-year medical student I am expected to begin choosing which career path I am headed. I have truthfully enjoyed each of these rotations; it’s difficult to decide which path I want to take. I spent my spare time during internal medicine in the intensive care unit (ICU) and love the variety of cases and care one has to handle there the most so far.


What can you expect to have accomplished with a half year of clinical rotations completed? I have been able to draw blood about 50 times, scrub, suture, and tie knots in surgery, place a nasogastric (NG) tube and laryngeal mask airway (LMA), cardioverted 3 patients in a-fib, gave injections, used a few different doppler ultrasounds for pulses, did 2 dilation & curettages (D&Cs), and debrided burn wounds. I cannot say that my classmates have done equally as much, because I actively try my best to offer help and ask to be taught new procedures on each rotation. I recommend that whether you are shadowing now or plan on performing your best on clinical rotations, you ask if you can perform techniques like these.

My advice for you today is to keep working hard and do not stop educating yourself! The more you read and the more you practice, the more well-versed you will become. Auf Wiedersehen for now, and happy holidays!Feliz Navidad!

 

Tablet for Medical School

Tablet for Medical School

Hello everyone!

Sorry for having been completely inactive for another year. As you can imagine I have been very busy with tying up my second year of medical school, including studying for Step 1 of the boards.

I wanted to write a post because I feel like I could share something useful. I recently got myself a Dell XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook Laptop Tablet. It has proven to be extremely useful.

But first, let me write about why tablets in medical school are extremely beneficial. Some people go through college without owning a laptop; computer labs are frequently available. However, for effective consumption and production of learning materials, it is obviously a necessary investment for every aspiring physician.

Many medical schools also offer their lectures online, which is even more effective than traditional in-class lectures because students get to stay home, watch videos at double speed, pause to clarify confusions, and generally use their time for studying more effectively. Exploring this topic more would be enough for another blog post, so I am going to leave it at this.

Tablets in medical school are great because they allow you to see lecture power point slides close up, without having to strain your eyes. You won’t have to worry about getting a good seat or about who sits in front of you. In addition, you can annotate directly on or next to the slides, use a search function, look up things as you go, and more. The benefit of a tablet over a traditional laptop is weight and mobility. Most students pack a backpack full of thick medical textbooks and a heavy, bulky laptop is the last thing we want to bring along to the library. There is an economy of how many things one can carry without sacrificing mobility.

In the end, having a smart phone or tablet is a must for a medical student not only to be up-to-date on schedules and emails throughout the day, but also because medical apps are a crucial element in every hospital. Traditional pen-and-paper students are at a disadvantage and need to step up.

For low-budget people, the Google Nexus 7 might be a good option. If you are most concerned with mobility and weight, go with the iPad Mini.

I decided to go with the Dell XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook Laptop Tablet because it offers the best of both worlds (leight-weight, tablet function, laptop function). However, it is a hybrid. It has no DVD/CD input, no wireless network cable port (but of course) wifi), and is heavier than your standard tablet. But it is also great for writing papers, gaming (if specced fully) and everything you would want to do on a computer.

A great tool in conjunction with a tablet is dropbox, which allows you to sync and backup files on the fly. This is much safer than just a physical backup.

Good apps for annotating PDF/PPT’s are iAnnotate or Notability.

Reasons to get a tablet:

Pros:

  • More efficient
  • More organized
  • Annotations
  • PPT up close
  • Watch videos
  • Lighter and thus more mobile
  • Cloud storage is a great way of backing up important files
  • Use search function to find the topic, chapter, or notes you took anywhere on your tablet
  • You’re going to have to get used to new technology like this, medical apps are standard utilities in hospitals

Cons:

  • The physical memory of writing and drawing by hand is a powerful route into human imagination and memory.

You can tell that I am biased towards a tablet. Whether you decide to get an iPad Mini, Dell XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook Laptop Tablet, Google Nexus 7, or other tablet, all of these have been used and tested greatly in medical school.

A Summer to Better Your Medical Career

What will you do this summer to beef up your resumé?

I will have 2.5 months of “free” time this summer. I plan to find a research project to work on or perhaps teach in a lab for that time. I also need to study at least a couple hours per day for Step 1 of the boards, so I guess it won’t be complete freedom. As far as I know, this will be my last summer I’ll have off until I retire, as it’s the summer between my 1st and 2nd year of medical school.

If you’re in undergrad now, summer is the perfect time to better your resumé for medical school. It’s a good time to start looking for summer research or TAing, a volunteer missions trip abroad, and volunteering/shadowing in a hospital. Keep in mind you may want letters of recommendation from the professors, scientists, or physicians you’ll be working with, so make sure to impress them with your best behavior and knowledge.

If you’re taking the MCAT this summer, hopefully you’ve purchased your resources already and have your MCAT Study Schedule planned to fit your needs.

Summer is an exciting time for all of us! Best of luck with whatever you do, even if it’s just hitting the beach :).

Medical Spell Checker – 100,000 Words

Here is a medical spell checker for those of you who are frustrated with red underscores all over your Microsoft Word documents :-). In addition, if you spell a medical term, disease, symptom, etc. wrong you will be corrected. The best feature of the medical spell checker is that it’s completely free. The spell checker also includes surgical equipment glossary besides medical glossary in general. Currently, there are ~ 100,000 medical words in this wordlist. Enjoy!